I read this story “The Caterpillar Flag” last night in an anthology called “Ox Crimes, 27 killer stories from the cream of crime writers.” The story is by Christopher Fowler, whose Bryant and May novels I am enjoying reading through. This is a middle- to low-brow collection with moderately interesting stories.
But I have no clue not only about what this story is about, but even about what exactly happens. It starts out with an English family, parents and young daughter, who move from England to a hot town in Spain for the girl’s health (she has pleurisy). There is also a worldly older lady English ex-pat, and in the story it is coming on towards the Queen’s diamond jubilee. The girl tries to extract silk from “silkworms” (clearly they are something else, presumably the eponymous caterpillars) to weave a British flag to send to the Queen but she gets no silk. This is where the story leaves me behind. Some old ladies, including the older ex-pat, some local ladies, maybe some other ex-pats, get together and come up with some plan. They apparently weave some kind of flag and send it to the Queen in the girl’s name. The girl gets an appreciation letter from the Queen. The older ex-pat lady disappears or dies, and maybe is cremated. The end.
So where’s the crime? Has anyone else read this story ever and can explain it to me? Did the other old ladies somehow make the flag out of the older ex-pat lady? There is clearly some fact about the “silkworms” that I am supposed to know about, but I don’t.
Have you ever read mystery stories that just leave you scratching your head?